August 3, 2011 12:36:00 AM
Switching from blue to red apparently didn''t hurt 20-year incumbent state Rep. Jeff Smith, who will hang on to his seat in House District 39 for another four years. Smith carried 60 percent of the popular vote in Tuesday night''s primary election, defeating Caledonia businessman Jack Larmour 3,274 to 2,154.
Smith, a former Democrat, initially announced his candidacy as an independent but changed to the Republican Party shortly before the qualification deadline in May.
Larmour, who watched the early returns with his two sons at the Lowndes County Courthouse, said he was a little surprised but felt he made a good showing against Smith, especially since he only had two months to get his message in front of voters.
"It''s hard to beat a 20-year incumbent," Larmour said. "It (Smith''s party switch) took a race that was going to happen in November and gave me eight weeks to do everything I had to do instead of four to five months.
Smith, who did not return phone calls Tuesday evening, said in the Dispatch Election Guide that he plans to use his knowledge of the legislative system to recruit major industry.
Smith has also expressed intentions to run for Mississippi Speaker of the House in January.
As for Larmour, he said he isn''t sure if he will seek the Dist. 39 seat again. He won a position on the Lowndes County School board in the 1990s, but he said this campaign was a lot harder.
"This was a lot of work," Larmour said. "My wife and I shook hands with thousands of people and went door to door, because that was what we heard you were supposed to do in these races...if you have hundreds and hundreds and thousands of dollars, it helps a little bit, but shaking that person''s hand is the best you can do."
Larmour concluded by saying he had fun and wouldn''t change anything in the way he handled his campaign strategy.
"This is politics," Larmour said. "Thank God we live in America and we have that choice to make of who we want to represent us."
Smith, a local attorney, will earn an annual salary of $10,000 as a representative. He will receive an additional $75 per day for special session and $1,500 each non-session month plus expenses.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.